Where the earth trembled

Where the earth trembled

4 November 2022 0 By Facto Edizioni

/ Visitors in Lisbon can now experience firsthand the 1755 earthquake that defined the city’s history /

Lisbon, capital of Portugal, has enjoyed growing fame and success as a tourist destination over the past couple of decades. What most visitors don’t know when they first arrive there, is that the city’s history was defined, among other things, by a huge tragedy: the 1755 earthquake, still considered one of the most intense earthquakes of modern times. A new attraction inaugurated last spring brings that event to life and gives visitors a new outlook on the city.

The date was November 1st, 1755, the hour 9:45, and most people were in church, for the All Saints’ Day high mass, when the quake struck. It was short and intense, and in the blink of an eye it destroyed a large portion of the city. Then came a tsunami, and a fire that ravaged what was left; thousands of people perished. The city was changed forever, with large swathes of territory rebuilt according to newer and more modern ideas. But you can still see traces of the event throughout the city over 250 years later, for example the Convento do Carmo church, of which only the huge arches were left standing (it now houses an open-air museum).

The Carmo church, rebuilt virtually, is one of the focal points of the new Quake – Lisbon Earthquake Center, a visitor attraction that opened on April 16th, 2022, in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon. Created by Jora Vision for Turcultur – Turismo e Cultura de Portugal, Quake allows visitors to experience life prior to, during, and after the earthquake, and to learn more about seismology, city planning, and Lisbon itself.

Upon arrival, visitors receive a RFID wristband that they can use to trigger content throughout the exhibition, bookmark a station that they want to receive further information about, and even take pictures. The first stop is a seismology lab, where “Professor Luis” explains about faults, plate tectonics, and everything else to do with earthquakes. Then visitors enter a “time machine” to go back to 1755, where, through realistic scenarios, they learn about the society and customs of the time.

While still in 1755, visitors enter into a replica of the Carmo church, they sit in a pew watching mass unfold, and suddenly the earthquake hits, and the building starts to rumble and fall: the simulator uses screens to the front and sides, a vibrating platform for the seats, and plenty of other effects such as smoke and wind, to let visitors experience the same emotions as people felt in 1755, when they probably thought it was the Armageddon.

“Designing Quake was certainly an interesting creative challenge,” said Marco Ruzza, Creative Director at Jora Vision. “On one hand the project needed to be historically and scientifically accurate, as well as respectful. But on the other hand, creating a true story-driven journey around the actual events was crucial for us. The experience really needed to bring visitors along for a plot: a beginning, middle, and end. Visitors needed to leave the experience having played a role on an emotional level.” It took a lot of work, but the result is exceptional. “In the end we found the sweet spot between the seriousness of the topic with the entertainment and fun factor,” Ruzza added. “We now love to see visitors absorbed in this extraordinary event.”

After the simulator, the exhibition goes on, and visitors are asked to reflect on the…

Continue reading Games & Parks Industry October 2022, page 64

Photos Courtesy: Jora Vision

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